Understanding public spaces from young people's perspective: Identity, territoriality and guardianship

This Earmarked Scholarship project is aligned with a recently awarded Category 1 research grant. It offers you the opportunity to work with leading researchers and contribute to large projects of national significance.

Supervisor – Dr Renee Zahnowr.zahnow@uq.edu.au

Public spaces play a vital role in contemporary cities. Beyond their primary function, public spaces such as parks, transport stations and shops, provide opportunities for social interaction, community attachment and a sense of belonging to develop (Francis et al 2012). Public spaces can also provide opportunities for crime. Opportunities for crime arise as a product of situational factors that bring a motivated offender and suitable target together in time and space, in the absence of a guardian (Cohen & Felson 1979). Everyday users of public spaces are frequently present when formal guardians, like police, are absent. These everyday users provide some level of guardianship through their presence alone; merely because they are visible to would-be offenders. More effective guardianship is provided by everyday users of public spaces who act to deter or respond to a crime event by consciously monitoring, proactively preventing and responding to behaviours (Hollis-Peel et al 2011). Active guardians are essential for safe public spaces. In the residential neighbourhood we know that familiarity with place and collective identity with neighbours motivates a sense of responsibility for the shared territory and enhances active guardianship (Newman 1972; Reynald 2011).

Young people frequent public spaces during the course of their everyday lives and may experience public spaces differently than other users. We have a limited understanding of the extent to which young people develop familiarity with public spaces they regularly visit and how this may influence their actions, perceptions and potential guardianship in public spaces. The aim of this PhD would be to address this research gap.

Preferred educational background

Applications will be judged on a competitive basis taking into account the applicant's previous academic record, publication record, honours and awards, and employment history.

A working knowledge of environmental criminology, neighbourhood effects and/or crime and deviance literature would be of benefit to someone working on this project.

The applicant will demonstrate academic achievement in the field(s) of criminology or sociology and the potential for scholastic success.

A background or knowledge of research methodologies is highly desirable.

*The successful candidate must commence by Research Quarter 4, 2021. You should apply at least 3 months prior to the research quarter commencement date. International applicants may need to apply much earlier for visa reasons.

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